AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Former NFL quarterback Terrelle Pryor is working out for the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Pro Football Talk.

Stranger things have happened than the Chiefs signing Pryor, but it's difficult to see it eventually happening. The Chiefs have a glut as it is at quarterback with Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray. Not much room for another body unless the Chiefs clear out one of the other four.

Smith last year signed a contract extension, so the Chiefs are committed to him as their starter and he's not going anywhere. The Chiefs won't be able to keep both Murray and Bray forever but they like the potential of both players, and it's unlikely they would part with either player before seeing them for at least one more offseason, training camp and preseason.

That leaves Daniel, who is headed into the final year of his contract. He could be expendable if the Chiefs determine that Murray, Bray or even Pryor is ready to be Smith's leading backup.

But if the Chiefs were already at that point, they would have made the move already.

So the Chiefs are most likely just looking, at least for now. They have CFL wide receiver Duron Carter working out as well and needed an arm to throw to him. Pryor, who started some games in 2013 for the Oakland Raiders, can handle that.

Kansas City Chiefs season report card

December, 31, 2014
video » AFC: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

The Kansas City Chiefs appeared to have reason to prepare for a long and prosperous stay in the playoffs on Nov. 16 after beating the Seattle Seahawks 24-20 at Arrowhead Stadium for their fifth straight victory. The 7-3 Chiefs moved into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.

But then the Chiefs lost four of their last six games to finish 9-7. That record wasn’t good enough to put them in the playoffs. The Chiefs lost close games against Oakland, Arizona and Pittsburgh down the stretch. A victory in any of them would have made the difference.

Team MVP: Linebacker Justin Houston led the NFL in sacks with 22, breaking the franchise's single-season record, which was previously owned by Derrick Thomas (20 in 1990). Houston was remarkably consistent. There were only three games in which he was held without a sack. He also had a superb all-around season, including his play against the run and in pass coverage, and the Chiefs used him in a variety of roles. He played them all well. A compelling argument can be made that Houston was the NFL’s best linebacker.

Best moment: The Chiefs rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Seahawks, giving them a physical and emotional victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. At that point, all things seemed possible for the Chiefs. After losing their first two games of the season, they had rallied to win seven of eight games, and because they were tied with Denver for first place, their chances for winning the AFC West had to be taken seriously. Jamaal Charles had his best game of the season that day, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns. It was the only time Charles topped 100 yards all season.

Worst moment: The Chiefs learned in the days after their Nov. 20 loss to the Oakland Raiders that safety Eric Berry had lymphoma. Berry was one of the Chiefs’ leaders, and his absence in the locker room has made an impact. The news caught everybody off guard because Berry had played against the Raiders. But he complained of tightness in his chest afterward and testing revealed a mass and the subsequent diagnosis. The Chiefs started their next game, on Nov. 30 against the Denver Broncos, as if in a daze. They fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 17-0 in the second before snapping out of it.

2015 outlook: The Chiefs should be a playoff contender again if they adequately address some glaring weaknesses on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Ultimately, it was their shortcomings at those spots that dragged down their passing game and ruined their season. The Chiefs are expecting several compensatory draft picks because of their losses in free agency last year. That would allow them to cover a lot of ground. The Chiefs might not be contenders for the AFC West championship as long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Broncos, but it will be a disappointment if the Chiefs are not a part of the wild-card race.

Chiefs' offseason practice schedule

December, 30, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In another bit of season-ending news, the Kansas City Chiefs have dates for their offseason schedule.

Here are some of their important dates:
  • April 20: Start of offseason conditioning program
  • May 16-18: Rookie minicamp
  • May 26-28: Offseason practices
  • June 2-4: Offseason practices
  • June 9-12: Offseason practices
  • June 16-18: Full-squad minicamp

Training camp will begin in July. We're still waiting to see whether it's again at Missouri Western State University in St. Joesph or elsewhere.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs’ 19-7 win over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium:
  • The Chiefs mostly said they were unaware of the other games that had an impact on their playoff chances. Offensive tackle Ryan Harris said the Chiefs weren’t certain of their status as their game wound down. “If we were going to the playoffs, somebody would have said something to us after the game," he said.
  • Jamaal Charles finished the game with a hamstring injury. The Chiefs went with Knile Davis as their featured back down the stretch.
  • Quarterback Chase Daniel succinctly summed up the season of linebacker Justin Houston, who had four sacks to finish with 22, a half-sack away from the NFL record set by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants in 2001. “The guy’s a freak," Daniel said about Houston.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 28, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs’ 19-7 win over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium:

What it means: The Chiefs did their part with regard to making the playoffs. They needed a victory over the Chargers as part of a three-game equation to reach the postseason, but wins by Baltimore and Houston kept the Chiefs on the outside looking in.

Stock watch: Quarterback Chase Daniel played about as well as could be expected as the emergency replacement for starter Alex Smith. Daniel, who learned Thursday night that he would be starting because Smith had a ruptured spleen, completed his first nine passes in getting the Chiefs off to a strong start offensively. The Chiefs sacked San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers seven times. Tight end Travis Kelce had seven catches for 84 yards. He finished the season as the Chiefs' leader in receptions and receiving yardage.

No wide receiving touchdown: The Chiefs remarkably finished the season without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass. The Chiefs had a close call against the Chargers in the second quarter when Dwayne Bowe initially was given credit for an 11-yard touchdown catch. But after a video review, it was ruled that Bowe fumbled before he crossed the goal line. The Chiefs still got the touchdown but only when Kelce recovered the ball in the end zone.

Game ball: Outside linebacker Justin Houston became the 10th player in NFL history, and the second to play for the Chiefs, to finish a season with 20 or more sacks. Houston had 22, giving him the all-time Chiefs record. Derrick Thomas had 20 sacks in 1990. Houston was a superb all-around presence this season, playing well in pass coverage and against the run. He may have been the league’s best linebacker this season.

What's next: The Chiefs finish 2014 at 9-7.

Chargers vs. Chiefs preview

December, 25, 2014
When: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City TV: CBS

The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs each need a victory in Sunday's game to get into the playoffs. The difference is the 9-6 Chargers don't need any help to get into the postseason. The Chargers would claim one of the AFC wild-card spots regardless of what happens in other games.

The 8-7 Chiefs need to win and then have favorable results in two other games. If the Chiefs win, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens, that wild-card spot goes to Kansas City.

The Chiefs beat the Chargers 23-20 in October in San Diego.

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Chargers reporter Eric Williams preview Sunday's game.

Williams: What does the loss of quarterback Alex Smith mean to the Chiefs?

Teicher: The loss of Smith wouldn’t help the Chiefs no matter when it happened, but the timing of the diagnosis of a lacerated spleen also hurts. Smith practiced two days this week, leaving only Friday for backup Chase Daniel. So not only are the Chiefs going with a quarterback who had taken only a handful of snaps and thrown one pass in two games but one who didn’t get many practice snaps. Daniel played well in the final game of the season last year, also against the Chargers, when the Chiefs rested Smith for the playoffs. He was 21-of-30 for 200 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs missed a field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter that would have won the game. The Chargers then won in overtime.

Philip Rivers looked fine to me last week against San Francisco, at least in the second half. How limited is he with regard to his back and rib injuries?

Williams: Good question. As you mentioned, Rivers struggled early against the San Francisco 49ers, but then caught fire in the second half and led the Chargers to an impressive comeback victory. Rivers did not practice on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, and the limited reps seemed to put him in better shape physically going into game day. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Diego’s medical staff takes a similar approach this week. Rivers has a high pain tolerance, and can play through a lot of stuff. But at some point Mike McCoy has to weigh how efficiently a banged-up Rivers can perform versus a healthy Kellen Clemens. An added bonus for Rivers has been San Diego’s offensive line, which protected him better the past two weeks. Rivers was sacked just twice in 54 passing attempts against San Francisco.

The Chiefs still have a chance to make the postseason, but need some help after losing at Pittsburgh. How do you think Kansas City players will respond mentally after a tough loss on the road?

Teicher: The Chiefs have had a tough road lately. Four of their past six games have been against teams already in the playoffs. I wonder how much they have left in the tank at this point. The Chiefs still can make the playoffs, though their chance to make the postseason isn’t good even if they beat the Chargers, but I still expect them to play with energy on Sunday. I think they’re fortunate this game will be played at Arrowhead instead of on the road and it’s against a division rival. Those factors should help the Chiefs.

In what ways have the Chargers changed, if any, since they lost to the Chiefs in October?

Williams: Defensively, the Chargers are much different. Linebackers Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o and Jeremiah Attaochu did not play in the first matchup. Ingram has been San Diego’s most effective pass-rusher since returning from the injured reserve/designated to return list after recovering from a hip issue in Week 11. Te’o is finally living up to his potential and making some splash plays. And Attaochu gives the Chargers another athletic body that can come off the edge. Since Week 10, the Chargers are tied for fifth in the NFL in red zone efficiency (36.4 percent), holding teams to an average of 21 points a contest.

Kansas City has lost four of its past five games, averaging just 18.6 points a contest during that stretch. What are the reasons for the Chiefs’ struggles on offense?

Teicher: The Chiefs don’t get many big pass plays, which is the root of their problem. The reasons for that are many. Pass protection has been mostly lousy. Smith was sacked six times last week in Pittsburgh and it’s not like the Steelers blitzed him much. They rushed four players on four of the sacks and three players on the other two. Receivers have struggled to get free from coverage and Smith had an affinity for checkdowns and other shorter routes. So opponents are lying in wait for Jamaal Charles and the running game and daring the Chiefs to do something they’ve had trouble with -- beating the defense with the deep ball.

What kind of season is Brandon Flowers having? Tough question here, but where do you suppose the Chargers might be right now if he hadn’t come along?

Williams: The Chargers are thankful to have Flowers this season. He’s been the team’s top cover corner, leading San Diego in interceptions (three) and pass breakups (13). Flowers has missed two games due to a groin injury and a concussion, but with first-round draft choice Jason Verrett out for the year after having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum Flowers provides valuable leadership and production for a young cornerback group. His confidence and infectious energy has rubbed off on the rest of San Diego’s younger players. It’s safe to say San Diego would not be a win away from clinching a spot in the postseason without Flowers’ contribution. Flowers said he looks forward to playing in Kansas City against his former team for the first time.

What is your assessment of the job Andy Reid has done in his first two seasons with Kansas City?

Teicher: The program was in shambles when he walked in the door so I have to applaud not only the results but how quickly he was able to coax the Chiefs into achieving them. The Chiefs had been doing things the wrong way for a number of years but that abruptly changed when Reid and general manager John Dorsey arrived. The Chiefs have the look of a team that will challenge for a playoff spot for the foreseeable future. But the next step, and this is how Reid will ultimately be judged, is for the Chiefs to go deep into the playoffs and perhaps even make or win the Super Bowl. If he can’t eventually do that, his time with the Chiefs won’t and shouldn’t be viewed as a success.

Chiefs rewarded again in Pro Bowl voting

December, 24, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pro Bowl voters have been extremely kind to the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years, and it appears they were again in 2014.

In case you missed it, the Chiefs will be sending four players to the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. Running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Tamba Hali will be participating for the fourth time, linebacker Justin Houston the third time and nose tackle Dontari Poe a second time.

Houston is without argument one of the best defensive players in the league and the Pro Bowl should be put out of its misery if he doesn't get selected. Though they aren't having what could reasonably be considered vintage seasons, Charles and Hali have compelling cases, too.

Charles is only 11th in rushing yards and well down the list of receiving leaders, but he's still averaging 5.1 yards per carry and is second in the league in touchdowns with 14. Those statistics, as well as his considerable value to the Chiefs, should at least get him into the discussion.

Hali has six sacks, so unless he has a huge game Sunday against San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium, he will finish with his lowest total since 2008. But he's still having a strong enough all-around season that he, too, at least merits consideration.

But it's difficult to justify the selection of Poe. He is unquestionably valuable to the Chiefs, but hasn't played nearly as well this year as he did in 2013. That can be difficult to quantify but Poe is ranked 35th by Pro Football Focus among defensive tackles this year.

The Chiefs have a couple of others who could have been selected. Fullback Anthony Sherman doesn't play a lot, but he's the top-rated fullback, according to Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Sean Smith is having a strong season, to the point where it wouldn't have been shocking if he made the Pro Bowl.

On balance, though, the Chiefs have little to complain about. In fact, one could argue they made out too well again.
videoPITTSBURGH -- The best offensive player for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday was an undrafted rookie wide receiver who a month ago wasn’t even a member of the playing rotation.

Nothing against Albert Wilson, who may have a bright future for the Chiefs. But they needed more if they were going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and maintain control of their playoff destiny.

But in the biggest game of their season, the Chiefs got little from a woeful offensive line, Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce and Dwayne Bowe. They settled for four measly field goals and that wasn’t going to get it done against one of the league’s highest scoring teams.

The Chiefs lost 20-12 and now not only need to beat the San Diego Chargers in next week’s regular season finale at Arrowhead Stadium to get into the playoffs. They also are dependent on the kindness of strangers in the form of the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and, perhaps, New England Patriots.

Those are the respective opponents of the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills. A win by any of those teams knocks the Chiefs from playoff contention even if they beat the Chargers next weekend. The Chiefs wouldn’t need a Buffalo defeat if the Bills lost their late game on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

“It completely changes things, for sure,’’ said quarterback Alex Smith, acknowledging the 8-7 Chiefs now need help to get into the postseason. “We’ve got a lot of character inside our locker room and I don’t think it will impact our preparation and how we go about things this week.’’

The Chiefs are in this uncomfortable predicament because they could muster little offense beyond the four field goals from rookie Cairo Santos. Kansas City had been a good team at scoring touchdowns while inside the opponents’ 20. It was second in the league heading into Sunday’s game at 67.5 percent.

The Chiefs were prevented from scoring a touchdown for the first time in their two seasons with Andy Reid as coach and Smith as quarterback. The Steelers choked them off all four times inside the red zone.

It was yet another symptom of an offense that needs plenty more punch. Longer term, the Chiefs need to address their shortcoming of playmakers through free agency and the draft.

But it’s too late for the Chiefs to do anything this season. Having a hapless offense endangers the Chiefs’ chances of merely doing their part to make the playoffs and beating San Diego next week. The Chargers statistically don’t have one of the NFL’s best offensive teams but they were good enough Saturday night with their playoff hopes on the line to put up 38 points and beat the San Francisco 49ers.

The Chargers, like the Chiefs, need to win next weekend in order to make the playoffs. So they will, no doubt, empty their bag of offensive tricks next Sunday knowing if they can get the score beyond a certain point, the Chiefs won’t be able to keep pace.

And what if the Chiefs do get into the playoffs? It seems ridiculous to suggest the Chiefs would be able to keep up with a scoring opponent like the Steelers or Colts.

The shame of it all is that the Chiefs’ defense did its part to limit Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense. For the most part, the defense held up its end of things this season.

The Chiefs on Sunday, and their season from the looks of things, were crushed by the weight of balky offense.
PITTSBURGH -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs' 20-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field:
  • Charles
    Running back Jamaal Charles traded jerseys with his Pittsburgh counterpart, Le'Veon Bell, on the field after the game. Charles walked into the locker room after the game without his jersey. But he was carrying Bell's black No. 26 jersey.
  • The Chiefs no longer control their destiny with regard to making the playoffs. They need to beat San Diego next week at Arrowhead Stadium and get help in the form of favorable results from other games. "It completely changes it, for sure,'' quarterback Alex Smith said.
  • Coach Andy Reid said the intent of the failed fourth-down play late in the first half was to score a touchdown and not just give the Chiefs a fresh set of downs. "That's what we were trying to do," Reid said.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs have rightly tried to do everything they possibly could this season to take the pressure off rookie kicker Cairo Santos. But they might have gone too far this week by blaming long snapper Thomas Gafford for two missed field goals in Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders.

The snaps on both kicks were off, but not by that much. In both cases, holder Dustin Colquitt did a nice job of getting the ball to the spot for Santos on time.

“It starts with the snap and the hold," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “The hold was good, and then that just throws it off a little bit.

“Sometimes when [Santos] feels like he needs to speed it up and he doesn’t see a perfect snap and it just throws the timing off a little bit and he hits the ball not like he wants to hit it. We have to make sure that everything is perfect. Especially with a rookie kicker, we have to be consistent. The snap and the hold have to be perfect.”

But as coach Andy Reid noted early in the week, it isn’t always going to be perfect for the kicker. To his credit, Toub didn’t let Santos escape without blame.

“We held him accountable, too," Toub said. “We didn’t make an excuse for him, that he missed it because of the snap. He was still able to see the ball. He has to get in there and make that kick.

“Being that it is his rookie year, we need to give him every opportunity to be successful. The veterans need to do that."

Toub said the Chiefs have no plans to promote long snapper Charley Hughlett, who was added to the practice squad this week, to replace Gafford.

“The timing of it seems like we’re trying to put the pressure on Gafford," Toub said. “We’re looking at a future guy, a possible guy that we’re going to have for training camp, in the offseason."

Chiefs will need pass rush against Steelers

December, 17, 2014

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher says if Kansas City can get after Ben Roethlisberger it has a chance to beat Pittsburgh.

QB snapshot: Alex Smith

December, 16, 2014
A quick observation of quarterback Alex Smith and how he played in the Kansas City Chiefs' 31-13 win in Week 15:

The Chiefs would happily accept another game from Smith on Sunday on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers like the one they got from their quarterback in last week's win against the Oakland Raiders. Smith threw for a season-high 297 yards, including the Chiefs' two longest pass plays of the season. Smith threw a 70-yard touchdown to Knile Davis and also completed passes of 48 and 37 yards.

Smith pushed the ball down the field like at no time since the season-opening game. He was 3-of-8 for 106 yards on passes that went at least 15 yards down the field. The attempts and yards were the highest since that season opener.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, his average throw against Oakland traveled 8.5 yards down the field, also highest since Week 1. That's far longer than his season average of 5.4 yards.

Injuries continue to nag Jamaal Charles

December, 14, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Running back Jamaal Charles was none too happy about being yanked from the game with the Kansas City Chiefs about to score a touchdown in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders but he had only himself to blame.

Charles had just taken a hit to the head, similar to the one he had taken in an October game against the San Diego Chargers. Then, he kept quiet about the incident until the next day, when he described having symptoms consistent to those of a concussion.

This time the Chiefs were quick to pull Charles from the game and examined him for a concussion, which it turns out he didn’t have.

“Really, he was complaining about his knee and ankle, not his head,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “But he did take a big hit there so we kind of went in that direction.

“In today’s football, you’re going to go through that. If somebody takes a big hit like that, you’re going to make sure you check them out."

Charles’ understudy, Knile Davis, scored the touchdown on the next play. The score gave the Chiefs a 17-6 lead in a game they would go on to win 31-13.

Charles failed to score a touchdown on Sunday for the first time in nine games. He wasn’t pleased about that.

“The next play they grabbed me and said, ‘We’ve got to go through the protocol and see if you’re fine,’ ’’ Charles said. “I’m like, ‘OK.’ The next play we scored. I was upset. I wanted to play the game. These injuries this year have been killing me this year. It’s part of the game but I’ve got to get over it.

“I had to go through the protocol with the concussion stuff. It was a big hit. I was fine. No seeing stars this time. I made it out clear this time.’’

Charles entered the game with lingering soreness in his knee and a sprained ankle from last week’s game in Arizona. He said he aggravated the ankle injury against the Raiders.

“I told the coach . . . they tried to twist my ankle,’’ Charles said. “The same thing happened last week. I just told them just give me time for my ankle to chill out right now because it was still under a lot of pressure. But I was fine. I could have played. I just told the coach I needed the time and I just needed to rest it.’’

Charles finished the game with 52 yards on 12 carries. He said he would be ready to play in next Sunday’s game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

“I just need to get off of it and ice it and everything would [be all] right,’’ he said. “It was still tender.’’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dwayne Bowe wouldn't reveal his answer, perhaps in fear of jinxing his quarterback, his team and its discovery of the downfield passing game.

But the possibilities seem endless for the Kansas City Chiefs if they can continue to open their passing game as they did in Sunday's 31-13 win over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

"You've gotta stick around and wait for it," said Bowe, one of three players to catch a pass of longer than 35 yards on Sunday. "We've got to show you."

If indeed Bowe and his teammates continue to make as many long pass plays as they did Sunday, the Chiefs will be showing up in the postseason for the second straight season. This was the missing ingredient, the thing that prevented the Chiefs from hanging around the chase for the AFC West championship.

Their inability or refusal -- call it whatever you like -- to get big pass plays was rapidly ruining their season. The Chiefs survived with a five-game midseason winning streak because they were extraordinarily efficient on third down.

But they could ride an offense that had to plod its way down the field for only so long. It was putting too much pressure on everything else the Chiefs had going and it was inevitable something would cave in.

The Chiefs entered the game 28th in the NFL in yards per completion (9.68) and 26th in yards per attempt (6.83). Their longest pass play through 13 games, in a league with rules making it relatively easy for teams to get long pass plays, was 41 yards. Every other team had a pass play of at least 50 yards.

The Chiefs finally joined that club, not to mention the modern world, with a 70-yard passing touchdown to Knile Davis. Quarterback Alex Smith also had completions of 48 yards to Albert Wilson and 37 yards to Bowe.

Smith, who finished 18-of-30 for 297 yards and two touchdowns, had 16.5 yards for every completion and 9.9 yards for every attempt.

That's the stuff real NFL passing games are made of.

"That was one of the positives," coach Andy Reid said. "It loosens things up a bit. They were playing a lot of that single safety in the middle and putting that extra guy in the box obviously concerned about Jamaal [Charles] and the run game. That opened up some things down the field for us."

The Chiefs also protected Smith well, something they hadn't done. He was sacked once, but even that was after he had tucked the ball and decided to run but failed to make it back to the line of scrimmage.

"If we can do that, we have people that can make plays," Charles said. "We've got people that can run, that have wheels on them. It's going to open up a lot of stuff in the running game as well."

With that, Charles smiled. Big pass plays or not, he's the Chiefs' best offensive player and, he perhaps more than anyone, has carried the burden of playing for a team with a plodding passing game.

Opponents have consistently jammed the line of scrimmage in wait for Charles, daring the Chiefs to do what they believed impossible and complete some long passes. In that sense, if what the Chiefs put on video Sunday is enough to make next week's opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, back off Charles a bit, that should help the Chiefs play to their strength.

"There [are] a lot of people locked in on me," Charles said. "If we can keep on doing this, I think that's going to be good for all of us."

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 14, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 31-13 win over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium:

What it means: The Chiefs broke a three-game losing streak and raised their record to 8-6. They would make the playoffs as a wild-card entrant for the second straight year by winning their final two games of the season.

Stock watch: The Chiefs at long last got their downfield passing game to work. One wide receiver, rookie Albert Wilson, got deep for a 48-yard catch, while another, veteran Dwayne Bowe, hauled in a 37-yard pass in the first half alone. Running back Knile Davis caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in the second half. The Chiefs were able to harass Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr in a way they didn’t in last month’s loss to the Raiders. The Chiefs had four sacks and were otherwise consistently able to make Carr throw before he was ready. Tight end Travis Kelce lost a fumble for the second straight week, which the Raiders converted into a field goal. Kelce later scored on a 20-yard pass from Alex Smith. Rookie kicker Cairo Santos missed two of his three field goal attempts (from 44 and 47 yards).

Improved run defense: The Chiefs limited the Raiders to 78 rushing yards. While Oakland rushed for 4.6 yards a carry, 25 of their yards came on one play by Latavius Murray. Otherwise, the Chiefs were much improved. They allowed Murray to run for 112 yards and two touchdowns on four carries in last month’s game against the Raiders in Oakland.

Game ball: Rookie De'Anthony Thomas gave the Chiefs a boost when their offense was sluggish and needed some help. He returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to put the Chiefs ahead 7-0. The play was blocked well and Thomas was able to pull away from the Raiders when he got into the open field.

What’s next: The Chiefs play against the 9-5 Steelers at 1 p.m. ET next Sunday in Pittsburgh.